Q+A: How to Move PST Files to Office 365

As we continue to adapt to a new working normal, be that remotely or with the adoption of newer technologies, accessibility to files is crucial for long term success.

While employees shifted to remote working from other devices, important PST files remained on workplace computers. For some enterprises, that meant major work and productivity disruptions and frustrated employees left to figure out alternative solutions. Simply having access to these files from personal, unsecured devices is a data security disaster waiting to happen. 

I caught up with fellow PST migration expert, Microsoft MVP Dominik Hoefling for this PST migration webinar, and this is what came up in the Q&A.

Quick Look: PST Migration Webinar – Q+A Session 

Here are some of the questions raised by our audience: 

Q. Why can’t I just use the file owner of the PST file to determine who it belongs to? 

The NT file owner of a PST is a lot of times administrator or the backup administrator. It’s whatever touched that file at some point in an upgrade. It certainly can be an indicator.  

At Quadrotech, we score the files and it’s a point system. That certainly is one of the points, but it tends to not be the most accurate. Also for terminated users and shared PST files, it’s not accurate. It can be used as an indicator, but it shouldn’t be used as the big piece there. 

Q. How do you handle duplicate PST files without getting them into the mailbox? 

It depends on if you’re using free tools or paid tools. In both cases, you have to define a mapping table that the PST file contains to which user. It’s always related to the identity. You have to be sure that you move the right data to the right person, back to the mailbox or to the archive. 

A paid tool can help take that to the next level with automation. Our tool looks for backup copies and identical names and will flag that. Then you can decide if you only want to take the most recent copy or ignore likely duplicate PST files. 

Q. How do you identify the PST ownership?  

With the free tools, you have to identify the ownership yourself. It works by looking at reports, looking at SCCM reports, and you manually figuring it out. 

In our paid tool, we use a scoring algorithm to open up the file and look at the most common sender, the most common receiver, if it’s open in Outlook, the NT file owner, is it on the user’s home share. 

Q. What is the risk of users backing up PST files on a USB drive? Is there another option?  

Backing up these files is very, very difficult. We don’t recommend using removable storage for backups because it’s actually not a backup. Their PST files are not encrypted. They can be lost. The drive could be stolen.  You can’t put any retention policies on it if you are having it in Exchange Online, for example.  

When you’re keeping it all in a closed system, you automatically now have to deal with compliance issues like if a terminated employee takes the USB stick with them or any of those bad actor issues.  

PST passwords are not encryption. If you have a file that is lost and that USB key is also lost, even if they’re password-protected, the files should be considered as exposed, and you need to follow your data breach procedures. 

Q. If you want to do an Office 365 tenant to tenant migration without a third-party tool, is a PST export/import the only way? 

Yep, for now, PST export/import is the only way. Microsoft doesn’t offer any kind of tenant to tenant migration. It’s in a private preview and they are working on it at least for mailbox migrations. But, you also have to take care of a lot of other things like your mailbox permissions, rules, the identity must be prepared, the other tenant, and also you can’t spin a single SMTP domain into two tenants.  

If you need an Office 365 to Office 365 migration tool, you can find one with us. 

To learn more about enterprise-scale PST migrations, please visit: Migrate PST to Office 365 with Quadrotech.

About the Author

Mike Weaver

Mike is a Senior Product Manager at Quest.  Mike specializes in Office 365 tenant-to-tenant migrations and PST migration projects. With a wealth of experience in mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures (MAD), Mike often writes about technology solutions and personnel considerations to ensure both successful integration and adoption.  Mike can also be found on Twitter (@MADMike_365) or from time to time on his blog (http://www.madmike.net)

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